If you become incapacitated and unable to manage your own financial affairs, you might mistakenly think, as a lot of folks do, your spouse or adult children can automatically step in and take over for you in handling your personal and medical care. The shocking truth is that for others to be able to manage your care, they have to first petition the probate court to have you declared legally incompetent and appoint a guardian to manage your personal care.
If you are incapacitated, you should create a plan for your medical care. Georgia law allows you to appoint someone you trust, such as a family member or close friend, to make decisions for you about your medical treatment options in the event you lose the ability to make those decisions for yourself.
You can do this by creating an Advance Directive for Health Care, in which you select the person to make such decisions. This document also contains language formerly used in a living will, which informs others of your preferred medical treatments in case you are ever in a persistent vegetative state or become terminally ill.
Why should you prepare an Advance Directive for Health Care?
If you experience a traumatic event, like a medical emergency, the Advance Directive for Health Care provides a mix of functions. It acts as a living will and power of attorney. This directive provides a person, which you have designated, as a loved or trusted person to make medical and healthcare decisions on your behalf. Forming an Advance Directive for Healthcare can potentially alleviate the stress and the guesswork from how you would like to be treated in case of an incapacitation.
How an Advance Directive for Healthcare works in Georgia
The directive grants a designated person the following powers:
- Admit into treatment
- Discharge from treatment
- Request or allow for a specific treatment
The designated guardian only has the ability to enforce their authority if you are not able to do so.
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It’s important to understand that a few life events can also impact the directive. For example, if you change marital status. A divorce or being re-married might affect certain aspects of the directive. This is another reason that forming this directive under legal counsel is advised.